Trends in the solubility of iron, aluminium, manganese and phosphorus in aerosol collected over the Atlantic Ocean

A. R. Baker, T. D. Jickells, M. Witt, K. L. Linge

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The solubility of iron, aluminium, manganese and phosphorus has been determined in aerosol samples collected between 49°N and 52°S during three cruises conducted in the Atlantic Ocean as part of the European Union funded IRONAGES programme. Solubilities (defined at pH 4.7) determined for Fe and Al in samples of Saharan dust were significantly lower (medians 1.7% and 3.0%, respectively) than the solubilities of these metals in aerosols from other source regions (whole dataset medians 5.2% and 9.0%, respectively). Mn solubility also varied with aerosol source, but the median solubility of Mn in Saharan dust was very similar to the median for the dataset as a whole (55% and 56%, respectively). The observed solubility of aerosol P was ∼ 32%, with P solubility in Saharan aerosol perhaps as low as 10%. Laboratory studies have indicated that aerosol Fe solubility is enhanced by acid processing. No relationship could be found between Fe solubility and the concentrations of acid species (non-seasalt SO42−, NO3−) nor the net acidity of the aerosol, so we are unable to confirm that this process is significant in the atmosphere. In terms of the supply of soluble Fe to oceanic ecosystems on a global scale, the observed higher solubility for Fe in non-Saharan aerosols is probably not significant because the Sahara is easily the dominant source of Fe to the Atlantic. On a smaller scale however, higher solubility for aerosol Fe may alter our understanding of Fe cycling in regions such as the remote Southern Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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